Skip to main content

Full text of "The young deserter"

See other formats


feY LEY- B, MANLY, ^R.,D. By, GHEENV1LLE, S. C. 

In the beginning of the war, a youth (whom 
we will call Charles K— ) joined the Confede ate 
army. He seemed fired "with -hearty zeal foi the 
defence of our assailed rights. His parents were' 
of Northern birth, but <if Southern residence, and 
professed decided udhcsii n to Southern vievi ->. — 
The first few movements of the war, how ver, 
brought their .jil.we of abode within the eno ny's- 
hues. Their sod's company was station I to 
'guard an irn \m\[ ant point, where, across th wa- 
ters of Ham piun. Roads, the "United States Sag* 
was full in view, beneath wViich his father and" 
family hm I taken refuge. Kvery day,. . as h ga2- 
ed over (lie wavy expanse, he oo^d see- where] 
they dwelt, now reconciled a patently to th Yan- 
kee y^de, even if they . hacfaiofc become its aiders 
and abettors.. What influences prevaile 1 over. 
kis boyish mind, cannot be certainly kn--wn. — * 
i *••••* somehow, the lodging to , join them, or the 
•'i-Kke of canu?V restraint^ or the ficklen> ss of a 
'bf.y, triumph e d over his oath of enlistment, his 
Vunviction of the righteousness of our en ise, and, 
his drea^ f the pelTils-of desei-tion. 
.^ Th<>, opportunity was not long wantin. , wl?ich 
ri P*V*.-.ed his scarcely form d desire into . eti.on. — 
Amorous light boa.ts were drawn up alongj-he 

beach, with which the men were accustomed ie 
t sport, sometimes fishing, sometimes barely amus- 
ing themselves with a brief excursion. One eve- 
ning as the gol ! of sunset was- mingling with the 
silver that cres.ed the waves., Charles R— enter- 
ed a beat ^and pushed off.- He -floated about 
carelessly with the ebb tide, as it seemed, for a 
while, by' degrees getting further and further out.- 
till, from the distance and the darkening twilight, 
he "might safely venture more decided move- 
ments. "Ferhaps even then he paused, debating 
wh ether f > go or return ; but the attractions ahead 
were tor string. Behind Bim were his sworn 
comrade? in arms. Before him loomed the ene- 
my's castle, with the associates of Ms early life. 
To them his heart cleaved. The doubt was over. 
With ill the speed his eager and practised .ham? 
•could give, heurgedhis boat to Fortress Monroe. 
He -was a successful deserter. 

I have known some to enlist under the banner' 
of Jesus, who seeded all animated with noble 
zenl, whose promptitude and ardor outran the 
dilridenceof slower minds, and gave promise of 
a! undant and extensive usefulness.- They "seem- 
ed to run well/ and received a confidence, and 
position in the church, which gave" them' power 
afterwards to bring reproach en the £ause. They 
were not, ^perhaps, deceivers at .first. They 
meant well, felt earnest, thought t.bemse^vos 
sincere; but there Was no steadfaWeKa, *no prin- 
ciple, no actual renewal about jfchem, Tk#J> tn 3 

attachments were elsewhere. Their chosen as 
sociations, their strongest ties, their deepest feel- 
ings bound them to the enemy. And so, after a 
struggle with the shame of fickleness, and with 
the dread of their sou 's peril, and with the ob- 
ligation of their vows and covenants — they: de- 
parted. It was not a 11 at once, perhaps ) not by 
vigorous and determined movements at first.-—- 
Brft they went. They left the Lord, they left 
his people., they lei this ordinances, they left his 
ways, they cast his book aside, tn'ey put his 
laws- behind *heir back, they cut themselves off 
from Him and His. In the outset, perhaps, it 
was apparently a simple yielding to the stress of 
an ebbing tide, t > the breathing of an off-shore 
wind ; it was but an imperceptible movement, 
unsuspected by others, possibly not fully deter- 
mined on by themselves; but the tendency was 
away from G-od and goodness, it was prevailingly 
toward evil. The temptation grew stronger as 
the distance and the darkness of the soul increas- 
ed, and at last they struck out sfcraigrfVto j-oin the. 
1 enemy. 

Are these any such deserters in this camp ? — 
Are there any, who are likely to become such I — 
Are there ary, who are even now conscious of 
the temptation, which' is 'seducing them frOin 
Gpd? Are there any who have begun that ha 
sportive, half serious parleying which may so© 
ws su fyject them altogether to its snares ? Are the 
->>i any, who ai e even now swaging back and fop 
^ v on the deceitful waves that- lie between 1?he 


pions of purity and evil, ~ half questioning witli 
themselves whether to return or stay? 

You have nrl gone far. Therefore it is easy 
io stop ) ow. Vou are not yet determined "to 
> ield ane go. Therefore determine at once not 
1 ) go. Your danger may seem slight. It is for 
that very reasoy more likely to delude and to 
tlestn y y<u, Yc r error from the path of duty 
may' plauVble, may almost seem extenua- 
ted, or ex used* b\ the circumstances around yoir. 
Th refbre take the trior e heed lest yeu fall. Oh 
st< p ! Th nk whe e you a»i going? Pray for 
£iace to H : m that s able to keep you from falt- 

But perlnps there are- some who have passed 
beyond this doubtful stage^ of indecision. You 
are not resisting temptation, not struggling against 
backsliding; you are not merely mrdita'tinsf a 
desertion, aftd hesitating before you b> gin. You 
have passed the Rubicon. You have made your 
choice. ' You^are free ivom the restraint of reli- 
gious profession, and have cast the fear of God 
behind you. Well, you are 'a successful deser- 
ter,- You .have gone forth from God*s people, 
because you were net of them. And what now ? 
• The vows of God are. upon you. You have 
broken them; but the shattered links still cKng. 
around' your soul, and, cannot be shaken off — 
You have renounced his service. But that does 
not alter the fact, that yeu once volurtarjly en- 
listed in it. And so you stanl, before God. and- 
angels and men, as a bxeaker of your piomise, as 

a conscious violater of a solemn deliberate' cove- 
nant with your God. Is it not so ? 

Your influence is most decidedly- feU against- the 
cause of Christ, -which once you professed to hour 

' or. You are not only ranked with {he enemy,* 
but you are so ranked by your own deliberate 
preference. And you have power to do more 
to religion, than those who never professed to be 
Christians. Your conduct seems to say to the 
world — that you have tried religion, and found ' 

* it to be a delusion. You may say, this is not 
your meaning ; but 'such, alas, is the interpreta- 
tion, which those who do' not love God will put 
on your testimony. They will delight to point 
to you and say, "There is a man who was '-one 
of the saints,' but has grown wiser." They will 
boast of your impiety, will strengthen them- 
selves on your weak compliances, Vill glory, in 
your shame. They will take a fiendish satisfac- 
tion in dragging yon with them • to deeper and 
more damning degradation, because you once 
listed of the good word of God, and the powers 
o; the world to come. Your vices will .be the 
th me of peculiar. merriment, because you once 
,sat at the table of the Lord, because your hands 
.ha-v*. handled the ;holy sacrament.* Your blas- 
phemies ' greeted with special glee, be- 
cause your-lips*"have join'ed-in the songs of heav- 
enly } raise. And your case will be urged* as the 
convincing argument which should deter the 
giddy iiom serious thought, the thoughtful from 
fonvietit n, the ' convinced from faith in Chris -t. 

' r 

the trembling believer from public profession. — 
You will be made the stumbling block, for the 
blind to stumble over into hell ! 

Your case is one of fearful danger, ?s well as 
of aggravated sin. "" It he that despised Moses* 
law died without mercy, of how much sorer pun- 
ishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, 

"who hath trodden uiider fcot tbe Son of Gfod, 
and hath counted the. blood of the covenant, 
wherewith he waf sanctified, an unholy tiling, 
and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace ?" 
There is in your case peculiar, tremendous dan- 
ger lest you will lose jour soul — lest the same 
influences which have drawn you aside, should 
keep you away from Glod — lest your "previous 
profession of piety may itself become one of the 
most - serious barriers to your becoming willing 

^even to listefl 'attentively to. G-od's word — lest 
your former experience may hinder you forever 
from striving to enter in at the strait gate — ■ 
may shut you up without effort here, without 
hope hereafter. 

Your case is only not desperate. There is sal- 
vation even for .such as you,* with Him who " is 
able to save unto the uttermost" There is par- 
don for Deserters, who repent and return. Lis- 
ten ! " Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall 
bs. as white as sno^?; though they be red like 
crimson, they shall be as wool." It i'sjaaiil fchjjtt 
this word scarlet means double dyed. Come, 
then, ye double dyed transgressors, who. havo 

broken both God's law. and your own promise 
■ — come and try SoW freely, ful-ly, Jesus can 
forgive. " Him that cometh unto me, I-wiU in 
no wise cast out." "The blood of Jesus Christ, 
His Son,, clcanseth'us from ali sin." . 



An impenitent sinner was recently brought in- 
to the near prospect of eternity, and the terrors 
of God's wrath fell upon him. His friends sent 
for a minister to come and counsel and pray with 
him ; but though he sought earnestly to lead him 
to Jesus, it seemed of no avail." Every exhorla- 
tion wfte met by the mournful plaint, " It is too 
late — too late ! " The minister spoke of th'e mer- 
cy of God, of Tiis.long suffering under provoca- 
tion, and of his gracious assurance that he has 
" no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but 
rather that he turn from his .way £nd live." A 
bitter groan was the first response ; and then, as 
ar look of agony convulsed his features, he delib- 
erately said : ' 

u Mi/ case is beyond all this. There was a 
time when God's mercy might have reached me* 
In after life I often felt the need of religion, but 
I -could not bear to give up the pleasure of sin, 
and. I quieted my conscience by resolving to 
impend only a few years in sinful indulgence?^ 
then I thought I would marry, and promised my- 
self that when once settled down in life, I would 
without delay give my heart to God. 


.-■■*' At twenty-four I married, and then pgain 
conscience reminded me of my vow, and claimed 
its immediate fulfilment. But I was too deeply 
intoxicated With the cup* of earthly joys to listen 
l io the faithful monitor, and I said, ' Go thy way 
ifor this time also v ' " 

"Then affliction came, and I was brought to 
the very borders of the grave. In bitter agony I 
sought the mercy -seat; and again^J promised 
that, if spared, I would at once repent and lead 
a new life. God's mercy spared me; but with 
returning health came renewed cares about my 
business and family, and the great business of 
life was again put off for a more convenient sea- 
son. That season never came ; .serioifs thoughts 
and solemn resolutions have often visited me ; 
'God^s messages of wrath and of mercy have been 
sounded in my ears, my broken vows have clam- 
ored loudly .of my guilt, and again and again I 
have promised myself that to-morrow I would re- 
pent. Thus have I passed forty years of the 
most aggravated folly and guilt — God's mercies 
and judgments alike unregarded ; and can you 
wonder that he now forsakes the wreteh he has so 
long and so patiently borne with ? He is just. 
My destruction is the work of my own hands . and 
I must reap the bitter fruit to all eternity. ZtMt, 
lost, lost I must /or ever be my wail." 

And thus he died, another fearful example of 
the danger of delay, and the vital importance of 
living in preparation to meet God. * ^, 3